ASHDOWN, Ark.—At one point in his life, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman was both an engineer and forester—and his constituents showed him Monday that both occupations served him well.
The National Association of Manufactures presented the GOP representative for Arkansas' Fourth Congressional District with its Manufacturing Legislative Excellence Award during an awards ceremony hosted by Domtar Industries paper mill.
"Congressman Westerman is continuing—among those representing Arkansas' Fourth Congressional District—along tradition of supporting our natural resource based industries, including the forest products industry that much of our district is so dependent upon," said Bob Grygotis, mill manager at Domtar in Ashdown.
"We are proud of Bruce and honored to have him representing us in the United States Congress. It's great to see someone out here supporting jobs and supporting Southwest Arkansas. He is the only licensed forester in Congress at this time, and he's been a great friend to all of us because he gets it—and he knows what's going on."
Upon accepting the award, Westerman thanked mill employees, the association and the residents gathered at the event, adding that he was both surprised and humbled by the award.
"It just seems like it's one of those things that I didn't know was happening," Westerman said. "It just seemed to happen when you make the votes happen—and that benefited what was needed. Manufacturing plays an integral role in the economy of Arkansas, and there exist opportunities for expansion in this sector (manufacturing). That's why I have worked to pass legislation that supports manufacturing and jobs though smart regulation and pro-growth policies."
Westerman added that he will continue working for both regulatory and tax policies, which foster innovation and manufacturing across the the Fourth District.
"Domtar is a great example of what I like to see all across the Fourth District," he said. "In the recent past few years, we've seen paper mills close and other manufacturing close, but now I think we can see a new and positive trend starting to happen. Sometimes, we get labeled as not caring too much about the environment, but it's just the opposite. Forests need to be healthy and we make sure of that. We really have a rich manufacturing area here in the Fourth District. It's a real honor to be here and if I can help you, let us know."
Following his presentation, Westerman took questions from the audience.
Regarding a question about restrictive logging truck weight requirements for interstate travel versus highway travel, Westerman said he is now serving on the House's Transportation Committee and added that he's heard about weight and would like to know more in order propose possible legislation aimed at lifting some of the restrictions —if need be.
Regarding the recent decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Change agreement, Westerman said the agreement appears to be vague and leaving the accords would benefit the U.S. since the agreement apparently would require the U.S. to invest billions of dollars in third-world countries to help reduce only potentially dangerous levels of carbon emissions.
"I believe the money could better be spent here because we can serve as an example of what can be done right," he said.
Finally, regarding tax reform, Westerman said that since 100 percent of the economy can be influenced by improved tax policy, he's confident that something will happen before the year's end.